A Few Words on Stewardship You have now heard several times about the wonderful progress we have been making toward achieving our dream of establishing our own house of worship. We have certainly been blessed with good fortune throughout this endeavor. Sometimes blessings also come in the form of challenges. Blessed challenges provide us the opportunity to come together as a family to overcome obstacles as we fulfill God’s will for us, and by doing so we grow spiritually as a Parish. The challenge we have ahead of us is how do we meet the increased operating expenses associate with our new Church and facilities? The $1.5 million loan (approved at the Spring 2011 General Assembly) and the additional operating cost of the new facilities will mean an incremental operating expense of over $100,000. To meet the challenge of this additional financial obligation so that we may enjoy the full extent of our new home, we must work together as a united family of Stewards. We must stretch ourselves to give as much as we can of our time, talents, and treasure. The treasure sharing aspect of Stewardship is obviously critical. While our current Stewardship giving rates have been generous compared to other well established Greek Orthodox Churches, it will not be enough to meet our financial obligations. We will need to do more in terms of attracting new Stewards, but it will also require existing Stewards to evaluate whether they can contribute more. We are hopeful that many in the community will be able to help in this challenge, and thus
the Stewardship Committee with the support of the Parish Council will be launching a 2% giving program as part of the 2013 Stewardship Plan. Based on Hunterdon County demographics and an assumption that our Parish is a representative sample of that population, if each existing Steward were able to give 2% of their income, our Stewardship receipts would account for 75% of our operating expense budget. With a reasonable increase in new Stewards, we could achieve near 100%. That would mean our fund-raising events could go toward paying down the mortgage or further beautification of our Church and facilities. We recognize that not all Stewards will be able to meet the 2%, but we are hopeful that many can. Based on readily available data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, households give on average 1.5% to 2.5% of income to charity. According to Philanthropy.com, American households give 4.7% of discretionary income (after taxes and mandatory living expenses). The number is 3.7% for NJ and 2.9% for Hunterdon County. Additional statistics for Hunterdon County show that the median charitable contribution is $2,158 (total income break down: $50k-$99k give $1,418; $100k-$199k give $2,292; $200k+ give $5,841). Therefore we are hopeful that the 2% is within people’s means. It is interesting to note that 2% equates to 48 minutes of a full work week. So one can think about it as giving the wages of our first 48 minutes of each week back to God.
Statistics are interesting and useful in framing the situation and potential solutions, but we know that giving is a very personal thing. Each family’s circumstances are different. These decisions need to be made through prayer and careful reflection. There may be some who feel they cannot give at that level, and of course that is understandable. We just ask that you give what you can. We hope that there will be many with circumstances that will allow for giving according to the 2% plan or more. Either way, we must not forget the other two components of Stewardship giving, namely giving of our time and talent. That comes in many forms. One form we would ask you to consider is to utilize your time and talent to seek out other potential Stewards in the area. Our new facilities offer us all the amenities to further enhance our ministry programs. This provides us a golden opportunity to advance our outreach to attract new Stewards to share with us the wonderful benefits and challenges. The Stewardship Committee is working hard on an Outreach Plan to attract new Stewards, but outreach is something that everyone can help do. If you know of someone who may be a potential Steward, reach out to them, and take the time to tell them about our Church. If you need support in approaching them, contact a member of the Stewardship Committee. We would be happy to help. - The Parish Council